Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Christina Cummings, the Co-President of Turbie Twist, the original super absorbent hair towel. While still in college, Christina and her sister set in motion a company that would not only change their lives, but the way women dry their hair. Turbie Twist believes everyone should have access to quality, essential beauty products at an affordable price.
Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Entrepreneurship was the fabric of my upbringing. My dad was an inventor and industry leader in soft polymer plastics, he and my mother also started a home-building company and invested in properties throughout the country…they were always busy, never settling, constantly creating. I didn’t realize it at the time, but as a child, all the summers my dad took me to work and all the weekends at construction sites were real-life lessons on problem solving, team building and bringing a concept to fruition. Upon graduating from college with a degree in communications I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but knew the only thing I was qualified to do was work for myself.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lessons did you learn from that?
Time management. In the beginning, and even now — there’s a WANT for so much. Unfortunately, there’s not enough time to (properly) invest in every opportunity. I have learned that I need to vet opportunities and prioritize by what best aligns with our business model and long term goals. This may mean saying “no”, but at Turbie Twist we focus on exceeding customer expectations, both retailer and end-user. If a project or product is going to deviate from that standard, then it has to be a “no”.
What are some of the factors that you believe lead to your eventual success?
At Turbie Twist, our company’s journey has been a balance of innovation while staying true to our family heritage. We find that our customers love our “original” Turbie Twist, but are also wanting access to the latest fashion and performance technology trends. This gives us the opportunity and inspiration to constantly introduce new looks to our line. By sticking to this mission we’re a good fit for a wide net of retailers.
Also, we treat our community like family. We are a small and personal business, and we aren’t afraid to show it. We’re very active on our social channels, replying personally to those who mention us, and we listen to feedback both positive and negative. We read our reviews across our retailers, and reply on our own e-commerce site. Our customers choose how they spend their money wisely, just as we have to do to make business decisions. I think that gives us a leg up on competition.
What are your “5 Things I wish Someone Told Me Before I Became President?”
- Roll up your sleeves. In today’s world, sustainable business management is about respect. You can’t ask someone to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself.
- Knowledge is power. There are teach-able moments every day, take the opportunity to educate yourself…You may not know your customers needs as well as you think.
- Mean what you say and say what you mean. Structure (and lack thereof) is a reflection of top management. Create a level of standards and be willing to stick to it.
- Don’t get comfortable! Business (and life) changes fast, an adaptable team gives flexibility to act and react quickly.
- Cash is King. My dad used to say, “You take money to the bank, not percents”. Success isn’t just measured on a spreadsheet. Your focus should always be to execute a profitable business plan.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
You are your company’s greatest asset — invest in yourself. Dedicate time to reflect and relax. So much of our day is “schedule” driven, book time as you would any other meeting — close your door or leave the office, and allow yourself to step back. These “brain-breaks” keep my sanity in check so I can be a better boss, partner, friend, mother etc..
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you get to where you are? Can you share a story?
Any manager will tell you, a company is only as strong as its weakest member. I am beyond grateful to have had a team of employees that understands our business, our customers and most importantly, our brand. I like to say we’re a small company that does big things. As a core team, we divide and conquer through constant communication and mutual respect. We’re able to develop and execute million dollar programs with national retailers every year because we know how to work as a team. Over the years my employees have watched and supported me as I grieved the passing of my father, gave birth to 2 wonderful babies and pushed to take the company to the next level. I manage the sales division, calling on all major accounts personally. I’m able to sell new products and ideas because of my confidence in their ability to navigate the back-end and deliver (what I promised).
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
As a working mom of 2 young boys I’m always trying to balance work and home life. Turbie Twist is what I do, not who I am. We’re a brand of fun bath accessories, not life saving medicine. Emails are someone else’s priorities and I have to have my own — we’re all works in progress and it’s easier said than done, but one day I hope to be content with leaving at the end of the day and not thinking about all the problems waiting for me when I return.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
The goal has always been for Turbie Twist to be a household name. We want our brand to be thought of as a line of products (beyond the hair towel) and one that is associated with novelty, quality and value.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
Be a giver! Give sincerely in time, money or resources without expectation of something in return. I love talking with product-enthusiasts who call and want to tell me about their ideas. I am a firm believer in paying it forward. I always open my rolodex for people who are working hard to turn passion into profit.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Instagram: @TurbieTwist #TurbieTwist